Radiation, Last Chemo, and All That Jazz

It has taken me way too long to write this, but we have had a lot going on around here! Even right now, I am chemo sick but have a toddler sitting next to me babbling away because he has separation anxiety and basically will only leave my side if dragged away kicking and screaming (literally). Yes, we have a doctor’s appointment scheduled re this.

On Monday morning, I went in for my radiation prep. I have been DREADING this, mostly because of the tattoos. When I was speaking with the two –  nurses? techs? I never know exactly what they are in theses situations – gentlemen regarding the procedure, what was going to happen, etc, I expressed concern over the tattoos. I told them I’d been told they would resemble freckles, but that I am so fair-skinned that all my freckles are light brown, so there is no way a blue-black spot is going to look like a freckle on me. I also told them that Dr. Morris – the radiation oncologist – had told me that if they really bothered me, I could have them removed.

“Have you seen or heard about the ultraviolet tattoos? They’re pink,” the one gentleman, Dan, asked me.

“No!” I replied, and the other gentleman, Jude, showed me one he had on his arm. Now, Jude was rather dark-skinned, so on him, the tattoo was really only visible under ultraviolet light. Still, PINK! Say no more, mon amour!

(Also, turns out Rex Manning Day is only 7 days away, so this is quite à propos.)

Anyhow, the lying in the CAT machine was no problem for me. I’m not really claustrophobic (which I swear I was asked if I was at least a dozen times that morning), and I just closed my eyes anyhow. I was a bit nervous about what the tattooing would feel like, although they were very blasé about it. Turns out they don’t use a gun or anything, it’s just an old fashioned tattoo. They put a little ink on your skin and pop it in with a needle. Doesn’t even hurt as much as a shot since you don’t have the injection part. Super easy! So I got four of those – one on each side, just off my breasts, that I can’t even see, then one right in my cleavage, then one kind of at the end of my sternum. They’re all very small and look like pin pricks of fluorescent pink highlighter, but when you shine a black light on them, they glow! I really want to get a pic of them to post but it’s hard to hold my boobs apart and click at the same time, so I will have to enlist the help of Julian this evening – stay tuned!

So got through that okay. I think I have already talked about radiation and side effects but as a quick recap, I will be starting on April 20th and going for six weeks – so through about the first week of June. It’s about 15 minutes a day, five days a week. At first I will feel fine but the fatigue will be cumulative. I will also likely get a sunburn like rash on my right breast where they shoot the ray in. It’s possible the treatment will affect my breast’s size and texture, though I’m praying ol’ Ruby makes it through this unscathed. I have to discontinue a bunch of supplements – including my multivitamin! – before I start treatment, which is kind of weird/awesome. LESS pills to take for once! And the nurse recommended I use calendula lotion on Ruby three times a day, which is going to be a pain in the neck, but I’ll do it. That’s about it for radiation info I think.

Then on Wednesday, the big day – LAST CHEMO! It feels weird to say “last chemo,” almost like I am tempting fate, so I usually try to add, “hopefully.” But that’s what we’re planning on.

My friends Erin, Alida, and Mari came by to celebrate with me, and their visits were nicely staggered so I had company (besides Jules of course) the whole time. And Erin brought me THESE:

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 Which are fabulous and nearly one of a kind, as she bought them from a street vendor in San Francisco who doesn’t have a web site! I have been looking and looking for my black cat tattoo design and everything is either blah or too fancy or too typical – and now these! And Julian suggested I have the eye be the ultraviolet spot which sounds SO rad. So maybe this is it!
Anyhow last chemo went fine and although I am now of course chemo sick I am so happy and positive and the sun has been shining like crazy so I am feeling so good about all of this! Nearing the end of the road now and really looking forward to putting this all behind me and reclaiming my life.
YIPPEE!

Thank you, and armpit hair.

First of all, thank you so much to everyone who has commented, texted, and messaged me about my last blog. Your supportive words really mean more than you know. Whenever we have to make a big decision there is of course uncertainty – but the love, support, and most of all the understand you have all expressed has really bolstered my confidence in my decision. Thank you, sincerely.

Second of all, met with the radiation oncology team yesterday. I will start radiation on or about 4/20 and finish or or about 6/3. Likely side effects are fatigue, which will be cumulative, and sunburn/rash/dry skin at the site of the radiation (good ol’ RB [right boob] – or Ruby, as she shall hence be known) as well as possible changes in her texture and size. The weirdest thing (to me) is I have to stop taking a bunch of my supplements, including Vitamin C, veggie DHA, and my multivitamins, for the course of the treatments. I am also only allowed to use natural deodorant* and AM NOT ALLOWED TO SHAVE MY RIGHT PIT.

Now, okay. I have dealt with chemo. Diarrhea, pills, fatigue, chemo mouth, depression. I have and am weathering it. But honestly, when she told me I can’t shave my armpit for six weeks… well, I was close to saying forget it. You can call me whatever you want, I don’t care. Tell me about how shaving is a stupid societal construct. I don’t care if you shave your armpits, and I don’t care what the reason is. I shave mine, and I like them shaved, and I keep them shaved, and I DON’T WANT HAIRY PITS. I am appalled at the very idea that I will have one unshaven armpit and am already pondering trimming techniques. So in the end, assault my body with poison, nearly kill me, but do NOT ask me to forego one of my basic tenets of personal hygiene. That I will not tolerate.

*I HAVE ACTUALLY FOUND A NATURAL DEODORANT THAT WORKS. Thank God for the timing on it too. I have been using it for about two weeks but am only posting now (because usually by the end of a week or so I can tell if it’s going to stop working or not). I am so amazed by how well this works that I have actually messaged the company because I am having a hard time believing it’s actually all natural, but the founder emailed me to assure me it really is. The name of the product is Bali Secrets and supposedly it’s really made in Bali. You can buy it on Amazon here: http://amzn.to/22hMZEB If you decide to try it please let me know if it works for you too – I am truly astonished by this stuff.

Decisions, decisions.

I’m going to try not to go on, because I know reading people’s meandering thoughts on themselves and their issues – whatever those issues may be – can really be quite boring, and I like to think I am not arrogant enough to think my musings are any better than most. Nonetheless:

Being diagnosed with cancer is not a decision, but it’s the start of many. Treat or don’t treat (seems crazy, but look at Jackie Collins)? Lumpectomy or mastectomy? Chemo or no chemo? Naturopathy or no naturopathy? Radiation or no radiation? Hormone therapy or no hormone therapy? And on and on and on. Having cancer is one of the lowest blows I’ve been dealt, but I don’t get to sit back on my laurels and wait it out. I have to do research, ask questions, and look inside my own head and heart for answers that don’t exist, that are just guesses. Educated guesses, but guesses nonetheless. Some people are willing to take everything their doctor says as gospel and just follow that path, which is great – but it’s not for me. I have every faith in my doctor, in his education and experience – but he can only tell me what is right for the majority, not for the individual. And I am, if nothing else, an individual!

So as much as I wish I could simply say, “I’ll do whatever you say, just tell me where and when,” I just can’t. And now here I am at the last decision I mentioned above – hormone therapy or no hormone therapy?

I have talked about it ad nauseam in this blog, so I’ll just do a brief update here. The lesion removed from my breast was determined to be estrogen receptor positive – ER+. What that means, in brief, is that estrogen helps it grow. So as long as my ovaries are releasing estrogen into my system – which, according to Wikipedia, will be for the next 7 – 17 years – any stray cancer cells in my system, or new cancer cells that develop, are likely to be boosted by the estrogen coming from my ovaries. Solution? Taking a pill or getting a shot to turn off my ovaries for the next five years to deprive those cells of estrogen.

The drug of choice to do this is called Tamoxifen, and I have already decided against that. There are a myriad of reasons, which I have discussed in previous posts (several previous posts), but the primary reason is that it and Prozac are completely contraindicated for each other and I am not sacrificing my mental health. I’m just not doing it. So as I mentioned in my last blog, Dr. K suggested I stay on Lupron, which is what I am currently on now along with chemotherapy because it’s supposed to help preserve fertility (in some women, some of the time).

Lupron is… really shitty. I am bloated. I am fat. I am hungry constantly. I am getting new wrinkles (literally, it’s not just in my imagination). I cannot sleep. I have to be on ANOTHER medication to cut back on the hot flashes and night sweats, which were occurring roughly every half an hour – try to imagine waking up every half an hour on sheets completely drenched in sweat. I have never been anti-medication – it’s quite literally what keeps me sane – but I am caught in this medication to treat medication to treat medication cycle right now and I HATE it. I long for the days when all I needed was an antidepressant and an antacid daily! In the end, I don’t want to do Lupron either. Which means, really, I DON’T WANT TO DO HORMONE THERAPY. That’s it.

Last visit, while I was crying about this very subject, Dr. K said that with my cancer, when it was caught, how I’ve opted to treat it, etc., my survival rate is already in the 90th percentile. He also said that hormone therapy will only increase that percentage by a few points. So there’s the decision: Is five years of misery, of not feeling like myself, of pills and shots and feeling like I have no control over my body, worth those few percentage points? And the answer is: No one knows. If I don’t have a recurrence, it’s totally not worth it. If I do have a recurrence – we still don’t know, because I might have had that recurrence even WITH the Lupron.

So I think in the end, my decision, hard as it is, has been made. I will finish my chemo. I will do the radiation. And then I will say au revoir, cancer, and move on with my life.

And although this is already far longer than I intended, let me close with one last decision I have made: Cancer is not going to run the rest of my life. I have seen lots of posts about how breast cancer changes you, how once you’re diagnosed it’s always there, the other shoe waiting to drop (if you’re unclear why, please see my post on metastatic breast cancer). Yeah, it’s changed me. I will never forget this time, nor am I ignorant about what it means for the future. And I’ll follow up with every test suggested, stay on top of my health, remember that 30% of women with breast cancer end up dying from it – but also that 70% of women don’t. I’m planning to be part of that 70%.

2nd to last! Come at me, bro!

So. Let’s see. Where to start.

First the bad: Pretty trivial, but I’m starting to get serious muscle soreness/fatigue. Started after I took Georgie for a long walk. The next day my muscles were quite sore, which I didn’t think much of… but they never stopped being sore. So for about a week and a half I’ve had post-workout muscle soreness. On top of that, things I normally do – charging up two flights of stairs, plopping down on the floor and jumping back up – have become very difficult for me. Essentially I feel like I am in the worst shape of my life – it’s given me a ton of empathy for people who are actually in bad shape, and a lot of gratitude for how I normally feel!

  
Now, the good: Second to last chemo, baby! I’ve made it through 4, five and six to go. So glad to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. After 6 I get a three-week break, then six weeks of radiation, five days a week. Not looking forward to that, but Dr. K says for about 2/3 of it I’ll feel pretty good – fatigue won’t hit till near the end. 

Today I asked him about having another baby, assuming I am fertile when this all ends. He said the good news is there will be no danger to me or the baby, and there is no evidence to suggest pregnancy or breastfeeding will cause the cancer to recur. I’ll also be getting checked very often – every 3 months for the first year or two years, I can’t remember, then less and less often. Mammograms only once a year – the three-month checkups will be just physicals and blood work. They can detect breast cancer in blood now! Not with 100% accuracy, but he thinks within the next 5 years things will be even farther along. When people talk about how breast cancer research has not brought about changes, I assume they must not know about amazing advances like this.

The bad news is he also told me he still strongly recommends hormone therapy. Aagagaggahhhhh I DON’T WANT HORMONE THERAPY. I told him I can’t do the Tamoxifen because of my antidepressants, and he said I could stay on Lupron – the drug that has been making me fat, bloated, and giving me new wrinkles and hot flashes/night sweats. Cue the tears and me saying, “I don’t want to be old before my time!” to which he immediately replied that this was MY choice, he will work with me on whatever I choose, and that the difference in survival rate numbers is only a few percentage points given my specific situation. He said let’s quit the Lupron after the next admin, see what happens with my period, get me through radiation, and then see how I’m feeling about it. This is why I have the most awesome oncologist in the world. I love this man like a relative. Seriously, Team Kaplan for the win.

So I cheered up and we came down for the chemo. Last week the place was so full and we waited SO long. This week we waited maybe five minutes and have an awesome chemo nurse, Lauren, whom I love.

Swedish (Hospital) chemo is not like other chemos, from what I have heard. We don’t have the chemo circle here – you’re always in a private cubicle (curtained off) or, less often, in a private room. I think prior to this we have had a private room once or twice. They’re way preferable because you can close the door, talk about whatever you want, watch TV or a movie without worrying about disturbing your neighbors, etc., but they are often filled up quickly for this very reason. 

Today, Lauren asked if we wanted a room and we said HECK YES! Turns out there were three rooms available and we got to choose so did we pick the one with the chair, the bed, and the ensuite bathroom??? YOU BET WE DID!

  
  

So, on a bad news/good news day, the good (as usual) is totally trumping the bad. Had a dream about my Dad last night and he was looking after me again. Grateful for everything, but especially for the support of all my awesome friends (like Mari, who will be joining us here in a bit) and my Mom (who gets here tomorrow night, WOO!!!)
Happy Wednesday!

UPDATE: I have found the fault with this room.

  
Someone has installed the toilet paper roll incorrectly, and I cannot fix it.

Hot! Hot!! Hot!!!

If you’d like to see the full video for this, which is pretty cool if you’re a Cure fan,
check it out
on Vimeo.

One of my least favorite side effects of chemo/Lupron is the hot flashes. They are why I am awake at 5am writing this blog (I’ve been up since 4:30), and why I haven’t had a full night’s sleep in at least a month and a half.

During the day, every 1-2 hours, I feel my face begin to warm, then the first prickles of sweat. This quickly spreads to my head, neck, and then over my entire body, until I feel overheated and covered in perspiration. Sometimes it’s precipitated by a hot room or activity – something as simple as charging up the stairs. Other times I am sitting perfectly still at a comfortable temperature and it comes out of nowhere. I don’t like them during the day – they’re uncomfortable and make me feel gross – but I really hate them at night.

At night, about every 2 – 3 hours, I am woken from a sound sleep by a hot flash. Yesterday, I was taking a daytime nap after having been kept awake by them the night before. I was in the middle of a dream and IN MY DREAM realized I was starting a hot flash, which then woke me up. Each time I am awoken, I have to throw all the covers back and wait the 5 – 10 minutes it takes for the flash to pass. I sleep in a room with a window open in the middle of the winter. This helps cool me off during the hot flash, but once it’s passed, I have to get back under the covers because I’m freezing.  I already suffer from and am medicated for insomnia. The medication does not override the hot flashes, nor help me fall back asleep when they come after 4am. When they come in the early morning like this – which is pretty much daily – I am fully awake by the time the flash passes and simply lie in bed thinking of things I could be doing. Now and then I am lucky and can force myself back to sleep around 6, only to be reawoken by my kids between 7 and 8. Today, there’s no point in even trying, as it’s chemo day and I need to be up to shower and get ready at 6:30 anyhow.

Last appointment with my onc, he recommended I try an OTC herbal treatment called Remifemin, which I have dutifully taken twice a day for three weeks, but the hot flashes persist. I’ll tell him that today and he will probably prescribe something, which just makes me feel overwhelmed and angry. Another medication to treat another side effect of another medication to treat… etc. I am over it.

All of the other side effects/complications – even the diarrhea – come and go, ebb and flow. But the hot flashes affect me every single day, because it’s hard to function  normally when I NEVER get a full night’s sleep, and it’s impossible for me to sit still and not exert myself every single day to avoid the daytime flashes.

Today is treatment number 4. Three down, three to go. I will be so glad when this is in the rearview, and I better never get cancer again.

A Word of Advice re Hospitals

Writing this in case it helps someone else – you don’t necessarily have to have cancer for this to happen, although it generally happens in the immuno-suppressed.

When I was admitted to the hospital in Pennsylvania back in December, I told them upon arrival that I had diarrhea. I know it was mentioned several times during my four-day stay, as well. Nonetheless, they LOADED me with broad-spectrum antibiotics and never once tested me for Clostridium difficile colitis. This is an infection caused by bacteria that are everywhere – especially in hospitals – and which are extremely difficult to kill. In a normal person, healthy gut bacteria keep them in check. In an immuno-suppressed person – say, someone undergoing chemotherapy, someone with neutropenic fever – they can take over, and the primary symptom is diarrhea. What helps enable this to happen? Broad-spectrum antibiotics, which kill all the healthy gut flora.

I continued to suffer with diarrhea the rest of December and all of January, until my oncologist finally decided to test me for the bacteria. The test came back positive, and he put me on metronidazole (Flagyl), a different antibiotic that is supposed to kill the C Diff. It is the bitterest, most disgusting horse pill I have EVER had to take, and as someone who takes a ton of medications, you can believe that that’s no small feat. I had to take it three times a day every day for fourteen days, and you cannot have ANY alcohol while on it, as the interaction can make you very ill.

I finally finished the Flagyl on Saturday, and on Sunday I woke up and had diarrhea four f**king times. I emailed my doc (who apparently never stops working) to inform him and ask if he thought it was still the C Diff or a side effect of the Flagyl (which can also cause diarrhea, as well as headaches and loss of appetite, both of which I experienced). He replied within an hour, god bless him, and told me it sounded to him like I still wasn’t over the C Diff, and sent a different prescription – this time for vancomycin – to our pharmacy. This is another antibiotic which is used to treat more severe cases of C Diff that don’t respond to Flagyl.

Our co-pay – not the full drug price, the co-pay – on the vancomycin was $1196.95. For TWO WEEKS. I now have to take this drug four times a day for two more weeks. And I have had diarrhea for two f**king months.

If you are admitted to the hospital and they put you on antibiotics, and you have or develop diarrhea, DEMAND THEY TEST YOU FOR CLOSTRIDIUM DIFFICILE COLITIS, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS C DIFF. It is common, it is easy to test for (although you do have to provide a stool sample), and it is easily treated when it is MILD. If, however, you have it for two months without knowing, and repeatedly take Imodium to treat your diarrhea*, you will end up miserable and out $1200. Like me.

*If you have C Diff, taking Imodium can actually make the infection worse, as it retains the bacteria in your gut and can cause toxic reactions.

The Portacath

When I started this blog, I had three intentions.

  1. Update friends and family on my status so I wouldn’t have to answer questions constantly.
  2. Blog it out – to have an outlet in which I could express all my joys and frustrations with this cancer monster, and hopefully about life in general when this is all over.
  3. Chronicle my experiences in the event that some woman, somewhere stumbles across my blog in her cancer journey and finds it informative, helpful, or even just feels a little less alone by reading it.

This post is mostly for reason #3.

When I found out I should/was going to have chemo, I initially thought I would not need a portacath (aka port, portable catheter, power port). When I was told I would, I panicked a little. I did not want another surgery or another scar. I googled around for images and of course saw some that did not make me feel better. So here is my port.

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As you can see, it’s really NBD.

Surgery was easy, but recovery was a little harder than expected. I actually had more pain from this than from the lumpectomy. My neck and shoulder hurt a lot the first couple days, then the pain moved to the incision. Within a few days after that, though, the site was only a little sore and that was it.

The site has remained a little sore, and my surgeon told me it probably will stay that way until the port is removed. There is zero fat on my body there, so no cushion, which makes it a little tough on the area. That said, again, NBD – it only hurts if I bump it or roll the wrong way. Sitting here typing I could forget it’s even there. Also, my surgeon says they’ll take it out as soon as chemo’s done, right in his office, under local anesthetic. So not another major operation!

The plus side: I was hospitalized for four days over Christmas with neutropenic fever, and they used my port for all the antibiotics and blood draws, so only ONE stick and I had both arms free the whole time, which came in really handy while lying in bed since I was quarantined to my room. Okay but actually it did come in handy for things like sleeping, going to the bathroom, etc. Additionally, when I get my chemo, they numb it with lidocaine first so I don’t even FEEL the big stick, and then, again, for the hours I am there, full use of my arms.

When I was googling this bad boy, before I had it inserted, I came across a post that said that the port would be my best friend, and it totally is. I am so glad my arms aren’t getting brutalized by sticks, and after that 4-day hospital stay, if I could have kissed my port, I would have.

So if you have to get a port, don’t be scared! It’s fairly fast recovery, a small scar, and a godsend when it comes to IVs.

Hairstory

I was born with a full head of hair. It was long when I was little, and then when I was about 8 or maybe 10, my Mom cut it into this awful mullet style – there is evidence in the form of school pictures. I let it grow back in and then when I was about 13, I cut it in a chin-length bob with a strong desire to look like Breathless Mahoney.

madonna

Note this is probably a wig, so really, I had no chance.

My hair definitely had the curl to support this style but I was never able to achieve the same volume and bounce… probably because I was a 13 year old girl with no idea how to style it or what products to use. I eventually grew it out and got layers.

Those are the only two times in 37 years that my hair has been short. Otherwise, it has always been medium, long, or super long.

In a one-week span I went from long to short to buzzed to balding mangy dog (which I am currently maintaining). People tell you that no matter how prepared you are, the hair loss will be traumatizing, but I have to disagree with the use of that word. I have been through “traumatizing” – I had to get treatment for PTSD after Gregory’s complicated and nearly-fatal-to-both-of-us birth. The word I would use is demoralizing. Part of it is my issue – I am both feminine and vain, and mangy dog is not a hairstyle that is natural to either. I have cried. A lot. I am a naturally insecure and awkward person, and although my hair wasn’t winning me any beauty awards, it was my damned hair – and it was unceremoniously taken from me. I read an article recently about how in the middle ages a punishment for women was to cut off their long hair, and that concept recurs to me nearly every day – I am being punished. Why am I being punished? (Of course I know I am not, but it sure feels that way.)

With that said, I’m not hiding it. If my head is cold, I put on a hat. If it’s not, I don’t. I saw the eyes in the airport as we made our way back to Seattle. Some people study me and look sad. Others look at me and then quickly flick their eyes away, embarrassed, afraid to stare. One kind lady in line for food asked me outright, “How are you doing?” and wished me good luck. Scarves right now make my head itch as the hair is still falling out. I’m not sure if I’ll invest in a wig or not – having done burlesque I know firsthand that they’re often itchy, hot, and unnatural looking. And if I do get hot, it’s not as easy to just whip it off in public as it is with a hat.

At home, it’s more the annoyance of it than anything – my head and neck get cold really easily, and the hair gets everywhere, making me eternally itchy. I scrub my head in the shower to try to get as much hair out as possible, but it never seems to stop shedding. More annoying, what little hair remains is actually GROWING, so I guess I’d better invest in a pair of clippers.

On the bright side, I shaved my armpits three days ago and they’re still soft as a baby’s behind, so there’s a silver lining. Also my eyelashes and eyebrows are hanging in, which I pray they continue to.

For now, just need to get used to my new, weird patchy reality, and pray it goes quickly. Next chemo this Wednesday.

Family

So before the daily update, I just need to say: Family, yo. 

My husband has spent as much time as possible at my bedside. My mother, sister Gretchen, and brother-in-law Matthias have carried the weight of caring for my two toddlers while he does so – all while fighting off the cold virus that brought me here. My sister Kristin got me an amazing art set from the Metropolitan Museum of Art (my fave US museum so far) and some cool coloring books, and my sister Gretchen brought them and some books she picked out for me – including an awesome Calendar of Wisdom book she got me for Xmas – here to me at the hospital. My cousin Crystal has been my biggest cheerleader from afar. My Uncle Mike has repeatedly touched base with me to send me good wishes. My sister-in-law Joanna and brother-in-law Mark have stayed in constant touch with me from England with hopeful words, funny stories, and positive thoughts. And our Araceli – our chosen Seattle family – has texted me nearly every day to check on my condition. Family. Blood. Thank you. You’re my rock.

Anyhow so! Not much sleep last night as my IV machine kept freaking out. No idea why. AIR IN LINE! AIR IN LINE! or MEDICATION COMPLETE! MEDICATION COMPLETE! Long night, but my awesome night nurse Deirdre took my blood before 7 and the results are already back. My ANC has to be over 500 for me to come home and unfortunately that result hasn’t come back yet BUT my overall WBC count went from 2000 yesterday to 11000 today! So that Neupogen shot really did the trick (in addition to making my knees and hips ache like a mother). 

My hair is coming out so much I can’t even describe it, yet I still appear to have a full head of hair. This will not surprise those who know me, but at this point it’s driving me nuts. I had a total mini breakdown over it last night. There is hair EVERYWHERE, and it doesn’t help that I haven’t been allowed to shower (because of my port). I actually hang my head over the garbage can and just pull tufts of hair out and still HAIR REMAINS. The worst part is my entire scalp aches from the follicle inflammation so at this point I just want the hair gone. Gretchen says she will buzz it today but Julian doesn’t want that, which lead to my breakdown. I am complicated in that I don’t feel especially physically beautiful but I put a lot of work into trying to be. I have this 1950s glamorous beauty ideal that I am constantly striving for, and short hair does not figure into that. So right now I try to avoid looking at myself in the mirror, which is fine while I’m trapped in the hospital, but when it’s back to regular life is going to be pretty hard. I’ll be torn between not wanting to see how bad I (perceive that I) look and wanting to make extra effort with my makeup and jewelry to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, so to speak. Anyhow that’s enough rambling about vanity.

Cancer sucks. It’s stripping me of all sorts of things I need to be me. I haven’t seen my kids in several days. I sleep alone every night (when I can sleep). I’m not allowed to shower and wash what little hair I have left. I have no physically autonomy. But in the end, I’ll be stronger. Maybe I’ll be a different me. If so, I hope it’s a better me.